USUALS, THE: Earth Sucks, We’re Out: LP

I’m very much attracted to bands with good lyrics first and good licks second. The Usuals, while leaving quite a bit to be desired in the lyrics for me, do drive a hard bargain by being really enjoyable to listen to. It’s not that the vocalist makes it difficult to discern the words he’s singing, but it wasn’t until the third listen that I realized the first song was about India pale ales. They’re certainly not the first nor the last punk band to write a ballad to a beer—but for what it is, the song is good. The Usuals are from Chicago and there is certainly a Windy City melting pot in their sound. At times they’re sonic dopplegängers for Naked Raygun and it’s awesome. Other times, I hear a lot of Denis Buckley and 88 Fingers Louie coming through. And a few times I get a bit of Bollweevils. I imagine these guys have grown up listening to, playing with, and going to the shows of those Chicagoan stalwarts and picked up a thing or two along the way. I wish their topics covered more than drinking, drugging, scene policing, and being broke, but that’s just me. Really great record for background music. And hey! Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer does backup vocals on one of the songs! –Kayla Greet (Self-released)